IBM, EMC push HP-Compaq out at Celera, ABI

Out with the almost new, in with the brand new.

That was a painful adage for Hewlett-Packard Co.-Compaq Computer Corp. (HP) this morning when Celera Genomics Group and Applied BioSystems Group announced IBM Corp. and EMC Corp. would be the lead vendors for their new IT infrastructure.

Applied Biosystems and Celera jointly announced they are replacing the current three-year-old Compaq AlphaServer infrastructure with 12 IBM eServer P690 Regatta servers and 150 terabytes of EMC Symmetrix storage and, ironically, EMC's Celerra file servers to manage it all.

"This basically replaces Compaq," says spokeswoman Jamie Lacey. "These previous systems were state-of-the-art for genome sequencing. Now they're three years old and Celera's business needs have changed. It had to have flexibility, cost, and performance."

Celera Genomics shifted most of its responsibility for the Celera Discovery System to sister company ABI and is now focusing on drug discovery. The new infrastructure will be primarily based at Celera's Rockville, Md., headquarters and will be installed over the next few months, Lacey says.

She declined to reveal how much Celera and ABI are spending on the new systems.

The 7:00 a.m. announcements this morning from Celera, ABI, IBM, and EMC created quite a stir yesterday when it became known the companies had separate 7:00 a.m. announcements. Asked yesterday if EMC and IBM had a joint announcement, an IBM spokeswoman said "no."

Technically, that was true. The closely related announcements were made separately. EMC and IBM are fierce rivals in the storage business.

"Celera's goal is to maintain cutting-edge computing capabilities with a platform that has the flexibility and capacity for a wide range of discovery and development activities," said Robert Booth, senior vice president, research & development, Celera Genomics, in the Celera press release.

With respect to storage, Celera will replace 20 Compaq Enterprise Virtual Arrays and other storage devices with three EMC systems, according to Roberta Katz, EMC director of global life sciences. "This will decrease Celera's cost for space and people to manage the storage. Storage will take [fewer] tiles in their data center," she claims.

While the dollar value of the deal was not disclosed, EMC and IBM will reap many benefits from the high-profile deal, according to IDC Senior Research Analyst Michael Swenson.

"[Celera's] visibility with the human genome has made it one of the leading lights. It's a great reference account and a significant blow to HP," he says.

"The RFP for this deal went out right around when [Compaq and HP] merged. You have to conclude that hurt them. No matter what they say about a merger, customers can't believe half of what they hear. Even though Compaq was saying it would keep Alpha around, do you want to make your next investment in that architecture just as the company is merged?" asks Swenson.

But that hardly means Alpha is finished off. On Wednesday, HP announced that Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in London had signed US$22 million deal for an AlphaServer-based supercomputer.

"That's another one of those great reference accounts. It's not like [AlphaServers] are losing all their installations," says Swenson, noting that the new 2-teraflop systems being installed replace AlphaServers that provided 1.7 teraflops in processing power. That suggests something other than just sheer processing power motivated Celera to switch vendors.

HP was planning to comment but had not provided a spokesperson before this was published.

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More about Applied Biosystems AustraliaCelera GenomicsCompaqCompaqEMC CorporationHewlett-Packard AustraliaIBM AustraliaIDC AustraliaSymmetrix

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